Louis Gossett, Jr.

Actor


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

Tab

About
About this interview

In his two-hour interview, Louis Gossett, Jr. talks about his early life, and his early interest in sports and performing. He recalls taking classes at the Actors Studio, and early television roles on The Nurses and East Side/West Side. He recalls appearing both on stage and in the feature film version of Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun” and along side James Garner in “Skin Game.” He details playing the role of “Fiddler” in the groundbreaking miniseries Roots, and speaks of finding the character, and improvising a line in a key scene, which was kept in with the permission of Alex Haley. Gossett discusses the impact of Roots, and what it was like to win the Emmy Award for his work on the series. He chronicles his Oscar-winning role in “An Office and a Gentleman,” and other roles in features like “The Cuban” and “Enemy Mine.” He recalls playing “Anwar al-Sadat” in the critically acclaimed Sadat, and opines about race relations in America. Jenni Matz conducted the interview in a joint venture with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on July 18, 2018 in Malibu, CA.

"'Roots' was a phenomenon African-American actors. Finally they’re telling the truth on national television, thank God. African-Americans already kinda knew the story. We'd talked about it in our kitchens and our bathrooms and our living rooms, but now it was on national television. The entire world stopped what they were doing to finally hear this story."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Louis Gossett, Jr. on appearing with Sidney Poitier in the feature film adaptation of Lorraine Hansberry's "A Raisin in the Sun"
Louis Gossett, Jr. on filming the "my name is Toby" scene in Roots, and on using the time "there's gonna be another day" (which he improvised) with Alex Haley's permission
Louis Gossett, Jr. on the decision to air Roots on consecutive nights, and on the phenomenon the show became
Louis Gossett, Jr. on playing "Anwar al-Sadat" in Sadat
Louis Gossett, Jr. on playing "Sgt. Emil Foley" in "An Officer and a Gentleman," directed by Taylor Hackford and starring Richard Gere
Louis Gossett, Jr. on how he would like to be remembered
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood, and his best friend growing up, Stanley Ralph Ross; on his early interest in sports and in performing; on being cast in the Broadway show "Take a Giant Step" at age 17
On what he learned from studying at the Actors Studio; on early television appearances on shows like The Nurses and East Side/West Side; on making the transition from stage to television and features; on appearing with Sidney Poitier in the feature film adaptation of Lorraine Hansberry's "A Raisin in the Sun," and on Norman Lear
On being cast as "Fiddler" in Roots, and on his initial disappointment with the role; on doing research to play "Fiddler" in Roots, and why the character was a breakthrough for him in terms of his acting process; on filming the "my name is Toby" scene in Roots, and on using the lime "there's gonna be another day" (which he improvised) with Alex Haley's permission
On the decision to air Roots on consecutive nights, and on the phenomenon the show became; on winning an Emmy Award for his role as "Fiddler" in Roots; on the legacy of Roots

Chapter 2

On playing "Dr. MacArthur St. Clair" on The Lazarus Syndrome; on playing "Sgt. Emil Foley" in "An Officer and a Gentleman," directed by Taylor Hackford and starring Richard Gere; on the role of the actor in society, and how the arts can help or harm
On being the second black actor to win an Oscar, and on what it meant to his career; on the value of storytelling; on playing "Anwar al-Sadat" in Sadat
On appearing in the feature films "The Cuban" and "Enemy Mine" with Dennis Quaid; on overcoming creative differences with other actors and on the importance of doing research on characters; on the then-current state of race relations in America
On what he loves about acting; on his then-future plans, what he looks for in a role, and on his production company; on the many mentors in his life
On how the industry has changed since he started; on career achievements and regrets; on how he would like to be remembered
Shows

Companions in Nightmare

View Show Page
Louis Gossett, Jr. on appearing in the television movie Companions in Nightmare, and on facing discrimination during filming and coming to terms with racism in the industry

East Side/West Side

View Show Page
Louis Gossett, Jr. on early television appearances on shows like The Nurses and East Side/West Side

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

View Show Page
Louis Gossett, Jr. on winning an Emmy Award for his role as "Fiddler" in Roots

Lazarus Syndrome, The

View Show Page
Louis Gossett, Jr. on playing "Dr. MacArthur St. Clair" on The Lazarus Syndrome

Nurses, The

View Show Page
Louis Gossett, Jr. on early television appearances on shows like The Nurses and East Side/West Side

Roots

View Show Page
Louis Gossett, Jr. on being cast as "Fiddler" in Roots, and on his initial disappointment with the role
Louis Gossett, Jr. on doing research to play "Fiddler" in Roots, and why the character was a breakthrough for him in terms of his acting process
Louis Gossett, Jr. on filming the "my name is Toby" scene in Roots, and on using the line "there's gonna be another day" (which he improvised) with Alex Haley's permission
Louis Gossett, Jr. on the decision to air Roots on consecutive nights, and on the phenomenon the show became
Louis Gossett, Jr. on winning an Emmy Award for his role as "Fiddler" in Roots
Louis Gossett, Jr. on the legacy of Roots

Sadat

View Show Page
Louis Gossett, Jr. on playing "Anwar al-Sadat" in Sadat
Topics

Characters & Catchphrases

View Topic
Louis Gossett, Jr. on playing "Fiddler" on Roots,

Creative Influences and Inspiration

View Topic
Louis Gossett, Jr. on the many mentors in his life

Diversity in Television

View Topic
Louis Gossett, Jr. on appearing with James Garner in the feature film "Skin Game," and on appearing in socially-conscious projects
Louis Gossett, Jr. on the impact producer Norman Lear had on opportunities for African-American actors in television
Louis Gossett, Jr. on doing research to play "Fiddler" in Roots, and why the character was a breakthrough for him in terms of his acting process
Louis Gossett, Jr. on filming the "my name is Toby" scene in Roots, and on using the line "there's gonna be another day" (which he improvised) with Alex Haley's permission
Louis Gossett, Jr. on the legacy of Roots
Louis Gossett, Jr. on the role of the actor in society, and how the arts can help or harm
Louis Gossett, Jr. on being the second black actor to win an Oscar, and on what it meant to his career
Louis Gossett, Jr. on how things have changed for African-American actors since he started

Emmy Awards

View Topic
Louis Gossett, Jr. on winning an Emmy Award for his role as "Fiddler" in Roots

Historic Events and Social Change

View Topic
Louis Gossett, Jr. on appearing with James Garner in the feature film "Skin Game," and on appearing in socially-conscious projects
Louis Gossett, Jr. on the impact producer Norman Lear had on opportunities for African-American actors in television
Louis Gossett, Jr. on doing research to play "Fiddler" in Roots, and why the character was a breakthrough for him in terms of his acting process
Louis Gossett, Jr. on filming the "my name is Toby" scene in Roots, and on using the line "there's gonna be another day" (which he improvised) with Alex Haley's permission
Louis Gossett, Jr. on the legacy of Roots
Louis Gossett, Jr. on the role of the actor in society, and how the arts can help or harm
Louis Gossett, Jr. on being the second black actor to win an Oscar, and on what it meant to his career
Louis Gossett, Jr. on how things have changed for African-American actors since he started

Minorities

View Topic
Louis Gossett, Jr. on appearing with James Garner in the feature film "Skin Game," and on appearing in socially-conscious projects
Louis Gossett, Jr. on the impact producer Norman Lear had on opportunities for African-American actors in television
Louis Gossett, Jr. on doing research to play "Fiddler" in Roots, and why the character was a breakthrough for him in terms of his acting process
Louis Gossett, Jr. on filming the "my name is Toby" scene in Roots, and on using the line "there's gonna be another day" (which he improvised) with Alex Haley's permission
Louis Gossett, Jr. on the legacy of Roots
Louis Gossett, Jr. on the role of the actor in society, and how the arts can help or harm
Louis Gossett, Jr. on being the second black actor to win an Oscar, and on what it meant to his career
Louis Gossett, Jr. on how things have changed for African-American actors since he started

Pivotal Career Moments

View Topic
Louis Gossett, Jr. on the many mentors in his life

Pop Culture

View Topic
Louis Gossett, Jr. on playing "Fiddler" in Roots

Television Industry

View Topic
Louis Gossett, Jr. on how the industry has changed since he started
Professions

Actor

View Profession
Louis Gossett, Jr. on making the transition from stage to television and features
Louis Gossett, Jr. on doing research to play "Fiddler" in Roots, and why the character was a breakthrough for him in terms of his acting process
Louis Gossett, Jr. on overcoming creative differences with other actors and on the importance of doing research on characters
Louis Gossett, Jr. on what he loves about acting

Performers

View Profession
Louis Gossett, Jr. on making the transition from stage to television and features
Louis Gossett, Jr. on doing research to play "Fiddler" in Roots, and why the character was a breakthrough for him in terms of his acting process
Louis Gossett, Jr. on overcoming creative differences with other actors and on the importance of doing research on characters
Louis Gossett, Jr. on what he loves about acting
Genres

Cop/Detective/Mystery Series

View Genre
Louis Gossett, Jr. on early television appearances on shows like The Nurses and East Side/West Side

Medical Dramas

View Genre
Louis Gossett, Jr. on early television appearances on shows like The Nurses and East Side/West Side

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

View Genre
Louis Gossett, Jr. on being cast as "Fiddler" in Roots, and on his initial disappointment with the role
Louis Gossett, Jr. on playing "Dr. MacArthur St. Clair" on The Lazarus Syndrome
Louis Gossett, Jr. on playing "Anwar al-Sadat" in Sadat
People

LeVar Burton

View Interview Page
Louis Gossett, Jr. on filming the "my name is Toby" scene (with LeVar Burton and Vic Morrow) in Roots, and on using the line "there's gonna be another day" (which he improvised) with Alex Haley's permission

James Garner

View Interview Page
Louis Gossett, Jr. on appearing with James Garner in the feature film "Skin Game," and on appearing in socially-conscious projects

Alex Haley

View Person Page
Louis Gossett, Jr. on filming the "my name is Toby" scene in Roots, and on using the line "there's gonna be another day" (which he improvised) with Alex Haley's permission

Norman Lear

View Interview Page
Louis Gossett, Jr. on the impact producer Norman Lear had on opportunities for African-American actors in television

Marilyn Monroe

View Person Page
Louis Gossett, Jr. on an encounter with Marilyn Monroe at the Actors Studio

Vic Morrow

View Person Page
Louis Gossett, Jr. on filming the "my name is Toby" scene (with LeVar Burton and Vic Morrow) in Roots, and on using the line "there's gonna be another day" (which he improvised) with Alex Haley's permission

Sidney Poitier

View Person Page
Louis Gossett, Jr. on appearing with Sidney Poitier in the feature film adaptation of Lorraine Hansberry's "A Raisin in the Sun"

Dennis Quaid

View Person Page
Louis Gossett, Jr. on appearing in the feature films "The Cuban" and "Enemy Mine" with Dennis Quaid

Stanley Ralph Ross

View Interview Page
Louis Gossett, Jr. on his childhood, and his best friend growing up, Stanley Ralph Ross

All Interviews

Q
S